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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Target data breach may lead to scams

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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

MINNEAPOLIS - The huge data breach at Target Stores may be leading to a new wave of trouble for consumers.  The Better Business Bureau says scammers may already be using this case as an opportunity to send out emails that contain a virus.

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Dan Hendrickson says people should not open any suspicious email claiming to help with the Target case.  The breach at Target stores exposed debit and credit information for millions of shoppers who made purchases between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. 

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U.S. Senator Robert Menendez is calling for a federal probe into the data breach at Target stores nationwide.  The New Jersey Democrat held a press conference outside a Target store in Jersey City, New Jersey yesterday to reveal his plan to protect the personal information of 40-million customers.  Menendez is investigating if the Federal Trade Commission can fine the Minneapolis-based retailer for the data breach.

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A Georgia couple is suing an energy company over a hot manhole cover.  The lawsuit claims the couple was visiting Duluth, Minnesota, in August of 2011 when their two-year-old son tripped and fell on a scalding hot manhole cover.  The boy suffered second-degree burns above the ankle.  The couple is seeking more than $50,000 from the company that operates the city's steam plant.  An attorney for the couple says he expects the case to go to trial.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear arguments in an assisted suicide case from 2007.  The Dakota County Prosecutor's office has appealed an Appeals Court ruling to the state's high court.  The Appeals Court ruled that the state law banning encouraging or advising a suicide is unconstitutional.  Two members of Florida-based Final Exit Network are facing charges in the suicide of an Alpine Valley woman six years ago.

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It was a good year to be in the homebuilding business in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  A year-end report from the Builders Association of the Twin Cities shows the region permitted more than ten-thousand residential units in 2013, the most since 2006 and a 14-percent increase from last year.  About half were multi-family dwellings and single-family construction permits were up 26-percent from a year ago.

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"Obscene" is how one St. Paul City Council member is describing a proposed $250-million streetcar in the city.  Dan Bostrom told KSTP-TV that giving every business along the corridor where the streetcar would run a million dollars each "would generate more economic development."  A public hearing on the idea is set for January 24.  No environmental or engineering studies have yet been done.

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The Minnesota Corn Growers Association is asking ethanol supporters to let the EPA know they oppose a reduction in the Renewable Fuel Standard.  It would slash the amount of ethanol in U.S. gasoline by one-point-four-billion gallons in 2014.  President Ryan Buck of Goodhue says you can send letters to the EPA through January 27th.  He says Minnesota farmers have already sent more than 35-hundred letters voicing opposition to the EPA proposal.  Buck says corn growers are only asking for a small niche in the market, not billions of dollars in tax breaks that oil companies receive. 

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The Minnesota Radon Awareness Act goes into effect January 1st, requiring specific and detailed radon disclosure and notification during most home sales.  The Minnesota Department of Health's Dan Tranter says the seller must indicate whether they've tested for radon, what was the result and did they fix it -- plus any documenting paperowork.  Tranter says the seller must also provide a warning statement to buyers describing health risks related to radon.  Tranter says about 40-percent of homes in Minnesota contain elevated levels of the odorless gas--which can cause lung cancer and other health hazards. 

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Environmental groups are happy the Public Utilities Commission might change how it ranks the costs of various ways of generating electricity in Minnesota.  They're concerned that current factors, not updated for almost 20 years, don't reflect total costs of pollution from "dirty" energy sources like coal.  Beth Goodpaster with Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy says using accurate costs puts all sources of energy on a level playing field.  State agencies and lawmakers refer to cost-comparison numbers when deciding on the mix of electric energy in Minnesota.

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A coalition of environmental and labor groups says repairing the state's infrastructure could create or sustain more than 114,000 jobs in Minnesota, including ripple effects through the economy.  BlueGreen Alliance spokeswoman, former state Senator Tarryl Clark says 2014 will be a bonding year or "infrastructure year" at the legislature, dealing with the basic systems Minnesotans rely on every day.  Clark says that means roads and transit, cell phone communications, water and wastewater treatment, electricity and natural gas. 

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The video shot by an Ohio man who drove 16 hours to Minnesota on Christmas Eve is making the rounds on the Internet.  Joe Knutson lost his wife Anna to breast cancer just six weeks ago and he told his family that he preferred to spend the holidays alone, but he caught family members off-guard when he let himself into his aunt and uncle's home in Bemidji.  None of them were in on the surprise, and Knutson was able to find his aunt and uncle's new home by searching the Internet for the couple's tax records for the address.  By Friday morning Knutson's video "Christmas Surprise 2013" was viewed more than 38,000 times on YouTube.

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